This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Blueberries, goodberries

blueberriesBlueberries and bilberries are the same, right? Wrong. Blueberries found in our European supermarkets all-year round are cultivated highbush blueberries, juicy and light or green inside. The blue berries found in the Northern European forests are bilberries. These are the ones that stain your fingers and tongue when you eat them straight from the bush.

And it is the European bilberry which (as far as I know) is the superior superfood of the two: loads of antioxidants, minerals, and great taste, unbeatable by the North American blueberry.

But when it is April and the Finnish forests are only waking up one takes what one finds (in the supermarket). And so today granma’s old sugar bowl is filled with cultivated blueberries.

(Loviisa, Finland; April 2019)


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Books of wisdom

booklistLet’s talk about reading lists (I am assuming you are interested in books!). No, not the reading lists one is forced to survive through in school, but reading lists we choose to plow through. I chose to spend 10 years plowing through my previous reading list of 106 books of pretension. It was a major classics binge and worth at least 100 books out of the 106.

And so, last year I found myself in the luxury situation of compiling another reading list. What would be a good topic for a 30-something person to delve into? More classics? Books on naturalism? Meditation? Biographies? Or just some freaking great modern novels? What do we all do when we need an answer? We google.

I googled “books with wisdom”. I thought if I start now, I might just be able to improve how I live my life so that it would have a significant impact on the remaining half a century I (might) have ahead of me. And google did not fail. It pulled up three lists of three blogging individuals, which I have compiled into one long reading list called Books of Wisdom.

This is not my list. I intend to make my own once I am through these recommendations. Some of these, like Suzuki and Aurelius, will definitely be on that list. Others, like Kaufman and Pirsig, are not for me as much as they might be for you. I am nearly half-way through. Here, take a dive into the below. And come back for my own Books of Wisdom list in one or two years’ time.

Philosophy & meditation

  1. Brian Johnson – A Philosopher’s Notes
  2. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
  3. Epictetus – Manual for living
  4. Henry David Thoreau – Walden
  5. Shunryu Suzuki – Zen Mind Beginners Mind
  6. Seneca – Letters from a Stoic
  7. JunPo Dennis Kelly Roshi – The Heart of Zen
  8. Ryan Holiday – Ego Is The Enemy
  9. Hugh Prather – Notes To Myself
  10. Alan Watts – Become What You Are

Mastering the body and mind

  1. Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
  2. Danny Dreyer – Chi Running
  3. Gay Hendricks – Conscious Breathing
  4. Daniel Goleman – Emotional Intelligence
  5. Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner – Think Like a Freak
  6. Ryan Holiday – The Obstacle is the Way
  7. George Leonard – Mastery
  8. Dan Ariely – Predictably Irrational
  9. Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow
  10. Malcolm Gladwell – Blink

Productivity & creativity

  1. Tim Ferriss – The 4-Hour Chef
  2. Josh Kaufman – The First 20 Hours
  3. Keith Johnstone – Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre

Business

  1. Harvard Business Review – 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself
  2. Josh Kaufman – The Personal MBA
  3. Peter Drucker – The Effective Executive
  4. Mark H. McCormack – What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School
  5. Ray Kroc – Grinding It Out
  6. Ray Dalio – Principles
  7. Jonathan Fields – Uncertainty
  8. Nassim Nicholas Taleb – Fooled by Randomness

Happiness psychology

  1. Dalai Lama – The Art of Happiness
  2. Sonja Lyubomirsky – The How of Happiness
  3. Brene Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection
  4. Karen Beaumont – I Like Myself!
  5. David Foster Wallace – This is Water
  6. Tal Ben Shahar – The Pursuit of Perfect

History, science, society

  1. Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  2. Will & Ariel Durant – The Lessons of History
  3. Ken Wilber – A Brief History of Everything
  4. Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time
  5. Neil Strauss – The Game

Novels

  1. Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  2. Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha
  3. Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  4. Robert Heinlein – Stranger in a Strange Land
  5. Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
  6. Antoine de Saint Exupery – The Little Prince

Compiled from the lists of James Clear, Michael Balchan, and Darius Foroux.

(Brande, Denmark; May 2019)


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The real New York City

manhattanAs I stood by the DUMBO waterfront I tried to calculate how many people these huge boxy buildings on the opposite shore would contain, any given moment in time. This is the Manhattan skyline as as we know it. “As WE know it”. Because really, just 150 years ago it was like any old town. And just 500 years ago, when Europe was restless because of religious reformations against the Catholic church and Shakespeare wrote his famous plays, Manhattan was mostly swampland. With mosquitoes.

Times Square was a crossing of two rivers and a beaver pond. There were salt marshes and grasslands and forests, all home to turkeys, beavers, elk, and those mosquitoes. The area holding up the skyscrapers I was looking at was sea floor (much of lower Manhattan is landfill). This is the real New York. If this is news to you you might like this excellent article by the National Geographic.

My view of Manhattan is a fart in the history of time. Quickly formed, possibly also not very durable. And yet this is the “iconic” New York “we all know”. Hudson, visiting in 1609, knew the beavers. I doubt city kids today know beavers from anything else than school books (sorry, educational internet websites).

Were do New Yorkers go to rewild? Is Central Park enough or does one have to leave this once so lush and bountiful island?mannahatta.ngsversion.1502920743252.adapt.1900.1

Lower photo humbly borrowed from “Before New York”, National Geographic, September 2009

(New York, USA; April 2019)